Congress has passed multiple pieces of legislation to alleviate the effect of the novel coronavirus.
The U.S. House of Representatives took the reins on the second phase of legislation, but the U.S. Senate took charge in writing the third phase.
With every passing day, it seems a fourth legislative package to address the coronavirus impacts is inevitable. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said of phase three on PBS Newshour, “This is not going to be the last bill.”
The ink is barely dry on phase three, dubbed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act—and Pelosi has already started her wish list for phase four.
“I’m not convinced yet that we need a fourth bill,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. “You’re just asking people to pass a $2 trillion bill and saying you need another one?”
She sure is.
Pelosi is pushing increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as food stamps, at the levels seen in the Obama administration.
She failed to get parts of the infamous Green New Deal into the previous phases but is working with her colleagues on ideas for electric grid provisions, infrastructure and fuel standards, according to NBC.
To say Pelosi’s priorities are out of touch is an understatement.
Senate and House Republicans have already been pushing back.
“I’m not going to allow this to be an opportunity for the Democrats to achieve unrelated policy items that they would not otherwise be able to pass,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on a radio show.
“We just watched in the last week 3.28 million people laid off,” Congressman McCarthy said. “That is multiplying higher than we ever watched in the financial crisis. How many people were laid off as the Democrats fought to change the election law or implement the Green New Deal?”
In the end, both parties claimed victory in phase three, which is fine. Whatever gets the job done.
Of course bureaucrats have different ideas and may think they have the solution, we won’t know the correct answers until after all this is over—perhaps even years after all this is over.
I can tell you what won’t help soften the blow of this crisis for the American people: $25 million for the Kennedy Center, $75 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and $50 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. All of these were included in phase three.
So, what happens now?
As explained earlier, negotiations are already happening. However, the U.S. Senate is not scheduled to return to Washington until April 20. McConnell said, “Of course, during this unprecedented time for our country, the Senate is going to stay nimble.”
The U.S. House of Representatives was scheduled to return on March 31.
Editor’s note: Seymour Klierly writes Washington Whispers for the Journal from inside the Beltway.